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42-72873

B-24 Liberator

A) On 4 October 1943, B-24D Serial #42-72873 of 44th Bomb Group, 67th Bomb Squadron was flying a Diversion over the North Sea, feigning attacks toward Wilhelmshaven and Emden. The purpose was to draw German fighters from the B-17 formations on their big attack on the factory complexes of Frankfurt, Germany.

42-72873 was attacked head-on by 4 enemy aircraft over the North Sea and was severely damaged. It was seen to go into a spin. Pilot Robert G. Stamos gave the order to bail out.

Navigator John A. Must and Bombardier Donald G. Campbell left the plane over the North Sea and were lost. They are still listed as Missing In Action (MIA).

Using their AFCE (automatic pilot) equipment, Pilot Stamos and Co-Pilot Howard W. Metts managed later to get back the control of the ship and brought the B-24 and the remaining crew back to England. Missing Air Crew Report – MACR 5149.

B) On the secret Carpetbagger mission to supply the French Resistance in arms and materiel (Mission “Ventriloquist 35”) on the night of 4-5 July 1944, B-24 #42-72873 was attacked above Artenay, North of Orleans, by a German Me110 fighter and shot down, Hptm Fritz Söthe of II.4/NJG4 being credited for its loss. Missing Air Crew Report - MACR 6990.

According to a statement in MACR 6990, 42-72873 was the only aircraft on that secret Carpetbagger mission. Co-Pilot Edward Tappan was the sole survivor of the 8-man crew and managed to evade capture.

Seven crew were Killed In Action (KIA) : Pilot John O. Broten; Navigator Roy C. Gehue; Bombardier Alfred C. Emert; Radio Operator William Freidkas; Engineer/Top Turret Gunner Harry L. Sparks; Left Waist Gunner Jessie R. Ellis; Tail Gunner Michael J. Pranzetelli.

A plaque to their memory was inaugurated on 14 August 1994 in Trancrainville in the presence of Co-Pilot Edward Tappan. It is located on a wall left to the entrance of the local cemetery.

Service

Units

  • 44th Bomb Group The Flying Eightballs

    44th Bomb Group The Flying Eightballs

    Group
    The 44th Bombardment Group (Heavy) was activated 15-January-1942 at McDill Field, Florida and equipped with B-24Cs. The Group moved to Barksdale Field, Louisiana and acted as a training unit for the 90th 93rd and 98th Bomb Groups and flew anti...

  • 801st Bomb Group

    801st Bomb Group

    Group
    The 801st Bomb Group was established as part of the Eighth Air Force in late March 1944 to carry out 'Carpetbagger' missions. These were night missions over France and other parts of occupied Europes to support resistance forces by dropping in agents,...

  • 36th Bomb Squadron
  • 67th Bomb Squadron

People

  • Herman Autry

    Military | Technical Sergeant | Radio Operator | 44th Bomb Group The Flying Eightballs
    Crash landed at RAF Lympne, Kent on return from target Furth, GR on 25 Feb 1944 in B-24H #41-29231 'Impatient Virgin'. RTD.

  • John Broten

    Military | Second Lieutenant | Pilot | 492nd Bomb Group
    John Broten attended the Culver Military Academy, Chicago, Illinois before entering Rutgers University, New Brunswick, New Jersey in September 1939 where he studied for one year. He entered the Service in February 1942 and trained as a pilot in the U.S...

  • Donald Campbell

    Military | Second Lieutenant | Bombardier | 44th Bomb Group The Flying Eightballs
    Killed in Action (KIA). B-24 piloted by Robert Stamos was attacked by fighters. Navigator Must and Campbell bailed out. AM, PH

  • Jessie Ellis

    Military | Sergeant | Radio Operator/Gunner | 801st Bomb Group
    Jessie Ellis enlisted in the Air Corps in February 1943 and followed training in Aerial Gunnery before being sent overseas. He served as a Left Waist Gunner in the 801st Bomb Group/ 36th Bomb Squadron in England. Killed in the loss of B-24D '"Star...

  • Alfred Emert

    Military | Second Lieutenant | Bombardier | 801st Bomb Group
    Alfred Emert enlisted in the Air Corps in July 1942. Sent overseas in 1944, he served as a Bombardier in the 801st Bomb Group/ 36th Bomb Squadron in England. Killed in the loss of B-24D '"Star Spangled Hell", #42-72873. Took off from Harrington at 23...

  • William Freidkas

    Military | Staff Sergeant | Radio Operator | 801st Bomb Group
    William Freidkas enlisted in the Air Corps in March 1943. After his training as a Radio Operator, he was sent overseas and served in that function in the 801st Bomb Group/ 36th Bomb Squadron in England. Killed in the loss of B-24D '"Star Spangled Hell"...

  • Roy Gehue

    Military | Second Lieutenant | Navigator | 801st Bomb Group
    Roy Gehue was living in Bear River, Canada, in 1935. He moved later to Sarasota, Florida. He enlisted in the Air Corps in January 1941 and was a Navigator in the 801st Bomb Group/ 36th Bomb Squadron in England. Killed in the loss of B-24D '"Star...

  • Andrew Kowalski

    Military | Staff Sergeant | Flight Engineer, Top Turret Gunner | 44th Bomb Group The Flying Eightballs
    Hit by flak on mission to V-1 sites at Agathe d' Aliermont, FR on 21 Jan 1944 in B-24J #42-99970 'Liberty Belle'. A/c returned to England but crashed upon landing at Wingham, Kent. ...

  • Howard Metts

    Military | Flight Officer | Co-Pilot | 44th Bomb Group The Flying Eightballs
    On 4 October 1943, B-24D Serial #42-72873 of 44th Bomb Group, 67th Bomb Squadron was flying a Diversion over the North Sea, feigning attacks toward Wilhelmshaven and Emden. The purpose was to draw German fighters from the B-17 formations on their big...

  • Calvin Millerbis

    Military | Sergeant | Left Waist Gunner | 44th Bomb Group The Flying Eightballs
    RTD

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Missions

  • VIII Bomber Command 108

    4 October 1943
    This mission is composed of five elements. The first element is a combined force of 104 B-17s from: 306BG (16); 92BG (17); 395BG (17); 303BG (19); 379BG (18) and 384BG (17) despatched to bomb the industrial areas of Frankfurt, Germany. 77 aircraft are...

  • 452

    4 July 1944

Places

  • Harrington

    Military site : airfield
    Harrington was built by the 826th and 852nd Engineer Battalions of the US Army in 1943. Completed in 1944, it was the furthest Eighth Air Force combat airfield from the east coast.The Eighth's Special Operations Group was based at the airfield, first...

  • Shipdham

    Military site : airfield
    Shipdham was built in 1941-1942, the first US heavy bomber airfield in the English county of Norfolk. It was a standard design, with T2-type hangars and a domestic site dispersed to the south east. Improvements were carried out to increase the number...

Events

Event Location Date
Battle-damaged 4 October 1943

B-24 #42-72873 "Raggedy Ann II" was attacked head on by enemy fighters. Badly damaged, the plane begin to spin down and when Stamos gave the order to bail out, Navigator John A. Must and Bombardier Donald G. Campbell jumped out and drowned in the North Sea. Stamos and his Co-Pilot Howard W. Metts later regained control of the plane and managed to fly it back to England. Missing Air Crew Report - MACR 5149. 2 MIA, 8 returned.

Failed to Return (FTR) Trancrainville, Eure-et-Loir, France 5 July 1944

Shot down by German fighter in the night of 4-5 July 1944. Crashed near Trancrainville, Eure-et-Loir, France

Revisions

Date Contributor Update
19 November 2015 14:02:08 ED-BB Changes to nicknames, description, events, unit associations, person associations, place associations, mission associations and media associations
Sources

MACR 5149
MACR 6990

Date Contributor Update
27 September 2014 18:41:02 AAM AAM ingest
Sources

MACR 5149 / MACR 6990 / Paul Andrews, Project Bits and Pieces, 8th Air Force Roll of Honor database

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